The President was visiting the Bay Area for a couple of days recently. This meant the arrival of Air Force One, the VH-3D helicopters, the C-17s to transport them and the V-22s that support the VH-3Ds. What more could an aviation guy want? I took a look at the temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) listed online to see when the airspace was going to be shut down. When the president flies, the airspace around him is shut down for security purposes. These closures are published (otherwise, how would the other pilots know not to fly) so it means we know when to expect things to happen.
Sadly, the arrival was on a day I was at work and was timed to come in to SFO around sunset so, even if I could be there, there was a chance that the light would have gone. (As it was, the arrival was just before the light went completely and a friend of mine did get some good shots.) The departure, on the other hand, was scheduled for Saturday morning. That I could manage. I figured that getting there early would be wise since I would not be the only one trying this so getting somewhere to park might be tricky. Plus, if they went early in the slot, I wanted to be ready.
I checked the TFR the night before and got up early the next morning. I had some breakfast and headed out. I arrived in plenty of time but did need to park quite a distance away. I got to the bayshore trail and found a few other guys with cameras. However, word quickly reached me that he had gone. I bumped into a friend of mine and he told me that he had checked the TFR earlier that morning and saw that it had been brought forward. He rushed out and got there just in time. I arrived about 20 minutes after they took off. Curiously, as I had been driving across the San Mateo bridge, I had seen a large jet airborne near the airport and wondered. Now I knew.
There was a silver lining to this disappointment. With Air Force One safely on its way, the V-22s were free to head out. The three of them took off in close succession and turned in our direction to head off down the peninsula. They didn’t come terribly close but I did get my first shots of them since they replaced the CH-46s that used to provide support. (Many moons ago I did see the CH-53Es that used to be undertake this role. They looked fantastic!)